Lexington, KY USA December 3, 2005 11:25 am By Staff LymeBlog News
Cincinnati's Dr. Henry Heimlich still says malaria can be used to cure AIDS, cancer and Lyme disease through a process called malariotherapy. Dr. Heimlich has been sharply criticized by state, federal and international health organizations for these experiments.
His hopes for testing the illness to cure cancer and Lyme disease was thwarted in the early 1990s after the Mexican authorities shut down a clinical trial in Mexico City, according to Heimlich's friend Harry Gibbons. So Heimlich-who trained as a thoracic surgeon and has no background in immunology-gambled that "malariotherapy" would solve the AIDS puzzle. To some researchers, including Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin, the theory held some intuitive appeal.
"I was curious about malariotherapy, because infection can be an immune booster," says Wulsin, an epidemiologist hired by Heimlich in August 2004 to study the theory's plausibility. "You get sick, and your body responds with white blood cells. That's what you need to fight off HIV, right?"
Wulsin was hired by the Heimlich institute to analyze data on AIDS patients with malaria.
"There was a firewall," Victoria Wulsin says of the problems she faced getting information from the Institute. "I said, 'No, I'm not going to place any stock in these results.' "
Wulsin was fired when she presented her findings.
But more than 10 years earlier the Centers for Disease Control had declared that "No evidence currently exists to indicate that malaria infection would beneficially affect the course of HIV infection." And since malaria might be harmful to a patient whose immune system is already compromised by HIV, the agency added that clinical trials "cannot be justified." The CDC warning had come in direct response to Heimlich's first malariotherapy experiments in China-work that, like the subsequent trials in Africa, is shrouded in mystery and which continues to raise serious questions about its efficacy and the apparent disregard of basic ethical standards in medical study.
Last January Dr. James Kublin, who analyzed the connection between malaria and AIDS in the East African nation of Malawi, published his findings in the respected British medical journal Lancet. Kublin reported that malaria infection can actually exacerbate the speed of HIV's attack on the body.
"Malaria causes immune activation, and immune activation is associated with, of course, an increase in the number of immune cells," says Kublin. "But that's a transient increase in CD4 cells. The problem with that is when you increase the number of CD4 cells you also increase the number of potential targets for HIV. And those CD4 cells are then infected by the virus-and then turn out more virus."
"It is clearly deleterious to people with HIV to get malaria. It can accelerate their mortality," says Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group, which analyzes AIDS research. "Using malaria as a 'therapy' is really malpractice and probably should be criminal."
"Using malaria as a 'therapy' is really malpractice and probably should be criminal." says Mark Harrington, who analyzes AIDS research.
Heimlich's first clinical trial took place at Yishou Hospital in Guangzhou, China, in 1993. In advance of this experiment, Heimlich circulated a study protocol that called for two groups of HIV-positive volunteers to be infected with malaria, which would then be allowed to go untreated for either two weeks or four weeks. It stipulated that the volunteers should be treated for malaria only if their temperatures topped 106 degrees. At that time two prominent Los Angeles AIDS researchers were investigated for taking part in the controversial medical experiment to infect AIDS patients in China with malaria.
A medical oversight board at the University of California Los Angeles wanted to know whether doctors John Fahey and Najib Aziz violated university policies that regulate tests on humans.
For AIDS experts the study's most galling aspect-recorded in the final published report-was its rule that the HIV-positive volunteers express a "willingness to not participate in other HIV therapies for [the] duration of the treatment and follow-up period." This meant the volunteers would go as long as two years without treatment. Somehow Heimlich and his colleagues found eight HIV-positive patients to enroll in the study.
Xiao Ping Chen, the Chinese researcher who oversaw the study on Heimlich's behalf, claims that the patients all survived and "remain clinically well" as of the follow-up period's close. But the study does not cite data for six of the eight patients' past six months, nor does Chen explain the omission. Heimlich refused to provide me with Chen's contact information, nor did Chen respond to questions sent to e-mail addresses cited in his published material. This is the same Dr. Heimlich who developed the Heimlich maneuver, used to expel food from the throats of choking victims.
His experiments - which seek to destroy ...
HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, by inducing high malarial fevers- have been criticized by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration and condemned by other health professionals and human rights advocates as a medical "atrocity.''
MALARIOTHERAPY Cincinnati's Dr. Henry Heimlich says malaria can be used to cure AIDS, cancer and Lyme disease through a process called malariotherapy. Dr. Heimlich has been sharply criticized by state, federal and international health organizations for these experiments.
This is how he explained the process at a conference in October:
His theory is based on tests performed in 1918 by Nobel Prize winner (medicine) Julius Wagner-Jauregg, who reported that malariotherapy cured neurosyphilis.
The idea is to inject AIDS patients with malaria to induce high fevers that will kill the HIV virus.
After 10-12 fevers and after approximately three weeks, the malaria is cured with drugs.
The fevers allegedly spark an immune reaction, which reverses AIDS' attack on patients' immune system.
In one study, malariotherapy was performed on eight HIV-positive men, ages 23-40, in China. After the malaria was cured, the patients were monitored for two years.
Heimlich contends that malariotherapy is affordable and available to patients who would not normally have access to expensive drugs.
For years, Dr. Heimlich has been criticized bystate, federal and international health organizations over malariotherapy. Despite this, Heimlich proudly continues his work in China and says he wants to expand malariotherapy to Africa.
From his Cincinnati institute on Straight Street, the 83-year-old Dr. Heimlich solicits private donations for malariotherapy research and distributes a quarterly newsletter about his work to "promote peaceful solutions to international problems." He is the father of Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich.
He often is at odds with medical professionals. One of his most public fights has been with the American Red Cross over the agency's refusal to adopt the Heimlich maneuver as the first response in drowning rescues instead of traditional CPR.
Dr. Heimlich says his critics are motivated by politics rather than legitimate medical concern.
Malariotherapy research was the topic of Heimlich's presentation to the respected Pan Africa AIDS Conference in Nashville, Tenn., last October.
"They don't question my work," he says, adding that his tests offer a chance to end the scourge of AIDS.
Officials with the Pan Africa Conference could not be reached. However, Peter Lurie, a former AIDS researcher and now a physician with Public Citizen's Health Research Group in Washington, D.C., calls the malariotherapy studies dangerous and unnecessary.
Public Citizen is a 32-year-old, nonprofit group founded by consumer advocate Ralph Nader. The Health Research Group provides oversight concerning drugs, medical devices, doctors and hospitals and occupational health. It works to identify and ban unsafe or ineffective drugs, medical devices and procedures.
"It is charlatanism of the highest order," Dr. Lurie says of malariotherapy. "It is exploiting the lack of decent medical care in China."
Dr. Heimlich began soliciting funds for malaria treatment of cancer, AIDS and Lyme disease in the late 1980s.
"Ever since then he's been coming up with new maneuvers," Dr. Lurie says. "Many or most of them have not worked. Some are incredibly grandiose."
Dr. Lurie included Dr. Heimlich's malariotherapy studies in a September 1997 New England Journal of Medicine article about "exploitive" medical procedures in developing countries.
Dr. Heimlich insists that he has approval to conduct his studies through a review board of doctors that is supposed to ensure federal regulations for ethical research are met. But that review board was disbanded several years ago after the Food and Drug Administration sharply criticized the China malaria experiment.
The review board overseeing Dr. Heimlich's China experiment was formed by an "alternative medicine" group called the Great Lakes College of Clinical Medicine.
In 2000, an FDA compliance director described Dr. Heimlich's procedures as inadequate. He said the experiments would not be permitted in the United States, that researchers failed to consider community attitudes in China and that there was no description of lifelong risks facing patients injected with malaria.
Dr. Heimlich called the report biased.
"We ask you," Dr. Heimlich wrote to FDA Commissioner Jane Henney, "to take immediate action vis-ư-vis your employee and the unwarranted harm to our research that his bias and false accusations are causing."
In 1993, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention questioned Dr. Heimlich's research. Carlos Campbell, CDC's chief of malaria studies at the time, said there was no evidence to support Heimlich's conclusions.
"No evidence currently exists to indicate that malaria infection would beneficially affect the course of HIV infection," Campbell wrote. "In fact, substantive concerns have been raised regarding the possibility that malaria therapy could (worsen) the course of HIV infection."
Los Angeles physician Paul Bronston, who serves as the national chair of the Ethics and Professional Policy Committee for the American College of Medical Quality, says there is still no evidence that the experiments have any merit.
"Indeed, there is evidence that it is very dangerous," he says.
Dr. Bronston organized a petition against Dr. Heimlich in 1994 over malaria experiments to treat Lyme disease, which were being conducted in Mexico. The experiments resulted in a groundswell of protest from the medical community.
Dr. Heimlich contends the China experiments have proved that malaria works to combat AIDS. He says that malaria strengthens the immune system and increases T-cells in AIDS patients.
T-cells are a common way to measure the severity of HIV. In a healthy person, T-cell counts are usually above 1,000. When counts fall below 200, patients are considered to have full-blown AIDS.
Dr. Heimlich says before being treated with malaria, eight male AIDS patients in China had T-cell counts that ranged from 269 to 1,868. Two years after malariotherapy, the T-cell counts in those patients were 570 to 2,063.
"These results ... confirm malariotherapy is safe and can be effective for HIV infected patients," Heimlich said in his Pan Africa presentation.
Both Dr. Lurie and Dr. Bronston say they are surprised that AIDS researchers would continue to be involved in malaria experiments after all of the continued negative publicity and criticism that Dr. Heimlich receives.
While researching her report Dr. Wulsin, who has field experience with AIDS in Africa, says that Heimlich's assistant, Dr. Eric Spletzer, gave her data that had been gathered from Africa-CD4 counts, apparently from HIV-positive patients who also had malaria-but would not disclose the usual contextual information. There was no signature from the researcher who took the data, and no explanation of how it was gathered. This struck Wulsin as strange; she needed that information to make sure the data wasn't biased. When she asked Spletzer for it, he refused. "I think Eric and Hank [Heimlich] knew things that, for a variety of reasons, they didn't want to share with me," says Wulsin, who declines to say more about what those reasons might be.
Wulsin's report, based on information gathered from inside the Heimlich Institute, offers the best glimpse into the size and scope of Heimlich's malaria endeavors. It refers obliquely to "an American sponsor" (Wulsin says she was never told the sponsor's identity) who in 2000 collaborated with the Heimlich Institute in conducting a malariotherapy study in East Africa. In 2003, says the report, this unnamed sponsor "commenc[ed] infection with malaria among 12-13 HIV-positive East African patients."
A footnote says that this study "lost" four or five subjects during the follow-up period, which would reduce the number of patients in the study to eight.
"There was a firewall," Wulsin says of the problems she faced in getting information from the institute. "I could see from Heimlich's point of view why they wanted to protect their sources, but it was certainly a disagreement that we had. I'm pretty Western, and I said, 'No, I'm not going to place any stock in these results.' "
Posts: 8337 | From the other shore | Registered: Jul 2002
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I also know of a Lyme expert who has seen lyme patients get better/go into remission after a high fever.
If the medical community is condemning this, then my guess is it works. I hope this research is continued. Maybe I should go to Africa and start wandering around some swamps. Or take a field trip to Plum Island and ask if they would be so kind as to infect me with malaria.
It's too bad babesia doesn't cure Lyme since it's a relative of malaria. Darnit lol.
The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer. --- Edward R. Murrow Posts: 923 | From California | Registered: Aug 2005
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I went to Mexico in 1990 to get Malaria under the Heimlich program. Some in the program had a temporary remission but it did nothing for me (except that I lost a pound a day while sick). Overall, I recommend you do not do it.
the idea is interesting on its face, but, imo, is sophomoric. sophmore = wisefool.
heimlich should retire before he becomes "heimlich himmler."
to test his theory,he doesn't have to deliberately infect africans with malaria, he can just go to the malaria belt in africa, and find those infected with both malaria and aids. those with both malaria and aids, can be one group in a study of different groups of individuals with and without disease, against which he can compare groups.
for example,a study design would be something like the following:
group I = patients with both malaria and aids.
(this group might include klempner, mc sweegan steere, some prosecutors,insurance industry executives, and fauci,for example, or; their subordinate colleagues who think like they do, and want their jobs. this would be a good way for them to get rid of their internal competition.)
group II = malaria patients only(this might include marques,members of the cdc,and/or the idsa, for example)
group III(e.g. of one kind of control group) = normal healthy individuals with no diseases.